CIO: Justice to improve info sharing in '06

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 2:53 p.m. Jan. 6, 2006, to reflect John Russack's correct title. We previously stated that he is information sharing program manager at the Justice Department. We apologize for the error.

The Justice Department plans to introduce improved information sharing and other information technology systems in 2006, the agency’s chief information officer said today.

The department is working on the Justice Unified Telecommunications Network (JUTNet), a wide-area network that will handle data, voice and images, said CIO Vance Hitch. Security will be built into the network, which will encrypt all data and handle classified and sensitive but unclassified material.

JUTNet will help Justice save a lot of money on technology, Hitch said. “I don’t think it will decrease budgets, but you will see a lot more technology for those budgets,” he said.

Justice plans to finish JUTNet deployment by the end of the year, Hitch added.

Hitch said he is working with John Russack, the information sharing program manager for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Justice’s information sharing committee on an interim departmentwide information sharing plan.

The plan is in the clearance process, Hitch said. The Bush administration and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are expected to make an announcement about the plan within the next three months, he said.

Justice will also devote more energy to internal IT projects. The department expects to have a procurement soon for its Unified Financial Management System (UFMS), Hitch said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration will be the first to implement UFMS because it is already using the software that is the system’s foundation, Hitch said.

The biggest challenge will be adopting unified usage practices departmentwide, which is scheduled to happen this year, he said.

Justice must adapt its existing public-key infrastructure (PKI) program to comply with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, Hitch said. The directive requires federal agencies to issue compliant identity cards to their employees and contractors beginning Oct. 27.

The PKI won’t make compliance easy, just easier, he said.

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